How do we respond to conflicts and trials? The reality is that conflicts are inevitable. Even Christians are not exempted from facing oppositions, problems, and disappointments.
In Acts 4 we see Peter and John, and the rest of the believers, in the middle of an ensuing struggle with the Pharisees and Sadducees. How did they respond? When we’re told to BE COURAGEOUS, what are the truths that we can hold on to?
1. PROBLEMS ARE INEVITABLE
Acts 4 begins with the arrest of Peter and John because they were talking about Jesus of Nazareth to the people (Acts 4:1-4). The Sanhedrin did not believe Peter and John because they were not after the truth – they had their personal agenda. They wanted to retain their power and stick to the tradition they were familiar with.
In facing problems, the principle we need to apply is to control what we can and leave to God what we cannot. Instead of fretting, we should pray. Instead of grumbling, we should be thankful. Instead of complaining, we should be grateful.
Peter spoke of this when he wrote his reminder in 1 Peter 1:6-7 that we can “greatly rejoice” in the midst of suffering, because we know that it will “result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ”.
2. PROBLEMS ARE OPPORTUNITIES
God does his deepest work in a world like ours. It’s the toughest times, the hardest conversations, the most painful relational tensions, when the light of His grace shines brightest, and transforms us most into his Son’s likeness.
Every problem can either become a blessing or a curse, positive or negative, depending on your response. Peter and the early church knew that this was an opportunity to share the truth to more people and minister to them by the power of the Spirit.
Like them, we must commit to witness for Jesus in every opportunity. Even if we are told to be silent and to stop witnessing, we are called to share the Gospel (1 Corinthians 9:16, Romans 1:16-17).
3. FACE CONFLICTS WITH COURAGE — AND COURAGE COMES FROM KNOWING THE TRUTH
Peter and John faced the elite, religious superiors of the Jews courageously (Acts 4:8-13). Peter used this as an opportunity to witness to the religious leaders about Jesus Christ “whom you crucified” (v10). He also used verses from the Old Testament (Psalm 118:22 and Isaiah 8:14-15, 28:16) to talk about Jesus Christ. He connected it with Jesus being the “stone which was rejected” and “which became the chief corner stone”. With the fullness of the Spirit empowering him, he had the courage to say that “there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (v12).
The religious leaders observed that Peter and John were ordinary people – they were uneducated, yet they spoke with confidence. Where did this “courage” come from and how did it help them?
It came from knowing who Jesus is and being with Him. To be courageous, we must know Jesus and have a personal relationship with Him. In turn, their courage enabled them to speak boldly about Jesus. When you know that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6) and are filled with the Holy Spirit, you won’t be able to stop talking about Him, just like Peter and John.
When we face trials that trigger our fear, we must remember that Jesus warned us what to fear: the “One who can kill and also has authority to cast into hell” (Luke 12:5). When they were told not to speak about Jesus anymore, they boldly held on to their conviction and the truth that they stand on.
4. CONFLICTS ALLOW US TO HAVE MORE INTIMACY WITH GOD
Our view of who God is will ultimately decide how we will respond to difficulties. When conflicts arise and things become more difficult, we should not lose focus. We should have a high view of God knowing that He is sovereign and in control. It will enable us to focus on Him rather than our circumstances. With that mindset, we can relax and trust God. We will not be anxious for anything (Philippians 4:6-7).
We should be intimate with the Lord through prayer. In Acts 4:29, the disciples prayed, “Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence.” This should be our hearts’ desire. They prayed for courage! No matter the conflict or circumstance we are facing, we must pray as they prayed. As God answered their prayer, He will also fill you with the Holy Spirit so you can also speak courageously and lovingly about Jesus!
Are you being opposed for doing the right thing? How can you turn this as an opportunity to lovingly share the Gospel?
Does your confidence come from knowing who Jesus is and being with Him? What steps can you take to know and experience Him more?
Do you pray for courage to share the Gospel? As a group, pray for opportunities to share Jesus to others and the boldness to speak about Him
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